Sunday I had an amazing victory. I ran 10 miles. For those of you who know me, you know I've run 10 miles before...a lot of times in fact. Heck, I've run 13.1 miles a lot of times. I've run 20 miles a handful of times, I've even run 26.2 miles a couple times...but on Sunday, 10 miles seemed like an unreachable goal to me. Every year I eagerly await Goldy's Run 10-miler. It's my favorite race of the season, mostly because I have a huge crush on Goldy Gopher, but it's also a run around "my hood" on streets and hills I have the pleasure of running frequently. It's always my first race of the season. It's a tough course, but I can't contain my excitement when I get to that starting line. Except for this year. This year I was not ready. I was not trained, I didn't feel prepared. I had placed an arbitrary limit on myself...I hadn't run more than 7 miles in the 10-weeks leading up to the race, I had barely run 10 miles TOTAL in the two-weeks leading up to the race. I hadn't run double digits since DECEMBER! There was no way I could run 10 miles today. But, there I was, wearing ridiculous gold pants, jumping up and down at the start line trying to convince myself it was going to happen. I stared out easy, hanging with Carla who was pacing the 10:30 group...a pace that was a good minute slower than I had run last year. I felt good those first couple miles, but there was still this little voice in the back of my head saying "you'll never make it past mile 7".
By the middle of mile three I had lost myself in thought, I was thinking about how I felt, I was thinking about how nice and warm my crazy pants were, I was thinking about work, family, and the cute skirt the woman in front of me was wearing (and where I could buy one). Before I knew it, Carla was no where to be found and I was running a 9:40 pace. I admonished myself, "Are you crazy? You can't keep this pace up and think you're going to finish!" There was another arbitrary limit. I slowed down a bit, but we were going downhill, so I said "screw it" and sped back up...my legs felt strong, my breathing was even, and I was flying by people who kept telling me how much they loved my pants...who was I to deny the runners in front of me a view of those sweet, sweet leggings? Before I knew it I had passed the turn around and was nearing mile marker 7...that was it, that was all I had in me, right? Nope. Good bye mile 7, hello hills! If you've run Goldy's before, you know that I most certainly didn't keep up my sub-10 pace during miles 7-9, but I didn't stop, I ran those freaking hills like I had trained for them. I encouraged a few others who I saw struggling...been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I crested that last, ridiculously steep hill that someone thought was a good idea to have at the end of mile 8 and I smiled...one mile to go...I was going to finish, and I was going to finish strong. Because what are limits but arbitrary numbers we assign to things we are scared of? They are preconceived stopping points we put in front of ourselves to give us an excuse to give up. Limits have nothing to do with our abilities, and everything to do with our failures. Limits are meant to be pushed, to be crushed, and then to be reset a little higher, so we can continue to defeat them on the road to our true potential.
I'm not going to lie...I was spent when I crossed the finish line. (That is the last time I line up for a 10-mile race with no training!) But if you aren't exhausted by surpassing your limits, then you haven't set them high enough. What ever that arbitrary, preconceived number you have put on yourself is, go out there and destroy it. You've got this...I believe in you!